Unexpected gifts


There is a poem that I love called Evening. It was written by my favorite poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. The translation I first read, and consequently love the most, is by Stephen Mitchell from the collection of Rilke’s selected poetry and prose Ahead of All Parting.

Evening

The sky puts on the darkening blue coat
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you watch: and the lands grow distant in your sight,
one journeying to heaven, one that falls;

and leave you, not at home in either one,
not quite so still and dark as the darkened houses,
not calling to eternity with the passion
of what becomes a star each night, and rises;

and leave you (inexpressibly to unravel)
your life, with its immensity and fear,
so that, now bounded, now immeasurable,
it is alternatively stone in you and star.

Tonight I was granted an unexpected gift. A light in the western sky caught my eye after sunset. I looked out the windows and saw an incredible moon — barely a sliver — hanging there above the trees like something out of movie. A scene so lovely it can only be called magical. Naturally I ran to get my camera. How long did I stand out there on the porch? I can’t recall. It can’t have been too long because it gets cold fast when the sun goes down. But as I stood there looking at that sky I was reminded of this poem. I know it by heart and can recite it easily. And with an empty night and no neighbors anywhere near to hear me, why not?

This was my favorite frame out of the set. Those clouds, the ones that make the scene, they melted away as I was shooting and soon the sky was clear. It always seems to be that way in photography. Whether it is a scene in nature or an expression on someone’s face, there is just one perfect moment and then, it’s gone. The moon has set now and the sky is truly dark. One of the things I have learned to love best about life in Montana is the deep, velvet darkness of the night sky.

In Montana, we have stars. It seems like such a simple thing but in the years I spent in Maryland, in the lights of the city, I have missed seeing stars. Now when I go to sleep I do not need to cover my eyes. I look up out my window and the last thing I see before my dreams begin is a star-filled sky. This it never fails to make me smile.

Sweet dreams all.

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